Editor’s note: Joan Fischer isn’t on the August Primary ballot because she is unopposed on the Democratic ballot for District 4. However, she will be on the November general election ballot.
PORT CHARLOTTE, Aug 1, 2018 – Joan Fischer, Democrat running for Charlotte County Commissioner District 4, got her opportunity to show she’s ready for the big show in the Candidates Forum sponsored by the Curmudgeon Club. A lively crowd heard candidates for States Attorney, School Board, County Commission, Airport Authority, and U. S. Congress
Two Republicans are running for District 4 seat and will be on the Republican primary ballot. The incumbent is Stephen Deutsch, and he faces challenger Tom Sullivan. The primary winner will face Joan in November.
The candidates made opening statements, and then answered questions from the audience. The entire event was streamed live by Charlotte County Democrats on Facebook Live.
The forum was held at the Charlotte County Cultural Center, and featured a “Meet and Greet” with the candidates and an informal debate. During the “Meet and Greet”, Joan said that much of what challenger Sullivan had said in a Sun Newspaper interview was taken from her own campaign and that he was using her material. “Everything he said in the interview is what I have been saying since I began my campaign. I have talked about transparency, Sunseeker, and impact fees. “Charlotte County District 4: Incumbent, challenger disagree on what’s a good deal.”
The following are excerpts from Joan’s debate:
In her opening remarks, Joan said, “I am the most fiscally responsible person you’ll every meet…I’ll show you just how fiscally responsible I am.”
“I’ve been a resident of Charlotte County for 23 years. I love it and that is why I’m running for county commission. You love it, and I love, and we want to keep it the way it should be.” Joan, saying she “cared about people” then described her work experience as a nurse, teacher, her master’s degree in business, and a director of federal programs. She then stated that the residents, churches, and nonprofits “who have given so much to the community, you have a right to be heard and to be part of the solution. That is what is important to me.”
Getting into the issues, Joan said, “I attend the (commission) meetings. I’ve gone to meetings for years, and I say my three minutes… One thing I talk about right now, is I talk about transparency because we aren’t being told everything until they rubber stamp it.”
“Since I used that word ‘transparency’ in the newspaper….the commissioners are saying ‘transparency’ all of the time. Well, it’s not good enough to say the word. I believe in transparency, and I will tell what’s going on”. I’m against unfair taxation. You and I are paying 60% of incomers’ impact fees, even though you and I paid 100% when your home was built.” Fischer received a loud and warm response from the audience.
Following opening statements, the candidates answered questions from the audience. The first question was whether the candidates supported proposed constitutional amendments 1 and 2. Joan said no because it would restrict the ability of local governments to raise money.
A question about taxes: “Instead of raising taxes, what would you do to cut spending and lower taxes?”
Sullivan fielded the question first, “Impact fees are not considered taxes. You are buying into a community. You are buying into neighborhoods.” He mentioned the lack of sidewalks. “That’s what happens when developers regulate themselves.”
Deutsch said the county hasn’t raised taxes, and also cut impact fees during the 2008 recession. The commission recently raised the impact fees.
“Let’s talk about taxes,” Fischer responded. “Your MSBU tax, Municipal Service Benefit Unit tax… The commissioners are saying they are not raising your taxes because they are moving it to the MSBU.” Fischer said, that according to the county attorney, the MSBU tax is a non-ad valorem tax is not considered a tax and isn’t deductible when filing federal income tax. “The sidewalks should be paid by impact fees. They should not be paid by you…That is how they can say they aren’t raising your taxes. The ad valorem tax is not considered a tax….I’ll keep you up to date about what is happening.”
Joan received favorable comments from those attending. “I met her in ‘Politics in the Park’. She is interested in all of the people in the community,” said Raphaela Rozanski. Another supporter said, “Little people need to band together to make a change. We stopped Mosaic. I’m concerned about the environment and our children.” Doug Campbell said, “I think she’s terrific. Joan is far better than he (Stephen Deutsch) is. We got to get a Democrat on the commission.”